Shame, shame, shame!

I came upon this video via The Friendly Atheist. It’s about what Christians are really thinking about during worship. The Friendly Atheist watched it and laughed; I watched it and wanted to cry. Why? Because this video was produced by a church. It’s no simply “funny song,” it’s a blatant attempt to shame parishioners. And it’s not like this sort of thing is uncommon – it isn’t. In fact, it’s common practice. Watch at least a little bit of the video, and then I will explain further.

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I spent many years in a megachurch with a worship band just like this. They did skits like this too. Watching this video, I was sucked back to that time. The message this video carries to believers is as follows:

You only think about God on Sundays. How selfish you are! You only surrender part of your life to God. How can you spit in Jesus’ face like this? He gave you his EVERYTHING, even his life, and you can’t give all? What kind of person ARE you? You think about your hair and nails at church. You ungrateful ingrate! You think too well of yourself, and think you have no need of salvation. How can you even be saved, you prideful pharisee? You don’t go to church every Sunday, because you are too busy. Jesus would CRY if he knew how you are living! You sing these songs without meaning them. What a wicked person you are! How can you do this to your SAVIOR?! You are a faker! You only care about yourself! You are a horrible, terrible person!

You have no idea how many times I received these messages from church, Bible club, and family worship time. You have to understand how intentional these messages are. In fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity, you have to make people feel like worthless losers, because if they don’t feel like they are wicked ingrates in need of Christ’s salvation they will spend eternity in hell. I’ve written before about salvation anxiety.

There’s one more aspect to mention. It is this exact process that is used to drive people deeper into fundamentalism and into the world of Christian Patriarchy. You aren’t good enough, the church tells people. You are living like the world. Are you facing persecution for your beliefs? No? Then you’re not LIVING them! Live your faith! Let it affect every single minute aspect of your life! Dare to be different, and to be criticized! It’s really no surprise so many Christians go to the extreme. They’re shamed into it through videos and skits like this one.

Evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity essentially yells “You’re not good enough! You’re not good enough! You’re not good enough!” in your face, well, forever. Sure, it follows this with “but that’s okay because Jesus died to save wretches like you,” but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire belief system is about convincing people that they are horrible, worthless pieces of dirt in desperate need of divine salvation. I mean, that’s the central message of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity. In contrast, I am a humanist. Rather than celebrating human worthlessness, I celebrate human potential.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Anonymous

    I can't make it through that video. Too many bad memories. I can confidentaly say that, "Christianity- You're not doing it right!" Was the most frequent message I ever heard in church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13930917517196516292 Jason Dick

    Ugh, yes. I remember this sort of crap well. I remember quite a lot of guilt and fear that I had as a child. And when I stopped believing, all that melted away, almost as if it were never there. Now my guilt is almost non-existent. Only those times when I mistakenly harm somebody do I feel guilty, instead of the constant stream of guilt I had as a Christian.I'm so, so glad that's over.

  • Anonymous

    When churches spend all their time trying to shame their parishioners, they are forgetting to preach the Gospel. Yes it is true that no one is good enough to earn their own salvation. But the Good News is that Jesus earned our salvation for us so that we are now redeemed children of God. Even though we are not good enough for all the reasons mentioned in the skit, we are still saved through Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Anon of 1:26 – Oh, believe me, every church I ever went to preached the gospel you describe word for word! It's just that the frequent repetition of "no one is good enough" and "we are not good enough," as you yourself say in your comment, in essence shames people and pushes them down again and again and again. But Christianity essentially HAS TO do this, since the core of its message (at least for evangelicals and fundamentalists) is that people are horrible and sinful need saving. This is crap. I am a humanist. Rather than celebrating human awfulness we celebrate human potential.

  • Anonymous

    But how does the humanist comprehend human awfulness? Surely you allow for its existence? This is one reason I remain in the Christian camp: for all its warts, Christianity offers a way to understand human suffering and degradation. Christ on the Cross offers an intimate view of suffering; the Resurrection is a vision of suffering infused with redemption. I enjoy your posts and hang my head in shame for the abuse of children in the name of God that purports to be "training a child up."

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    I, too, was raised in a fundamentalist church. I felt a lot of guilt about belief since I became an atheist at age 10 and still attended church until I was 19. But I see nothing wrong with calling out Christians about their hypocrisy. Many people I knew were social Christians, who attended church for the sake of appearances or because good people attended church. I found the song funny.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Anonymous of 2:49 – In your comment you address two issues: human suffering and human awfulness. Human suffering is not that hard to understand at all. I mean, shit happens. People starve. There's no God out there feeding the hungry, so that means we, other people, need to go do that. There is no magical force ready to step in, so we humans need to get busy bettering the world we live in and helping those around us. As to human awfulness, well, I don't actually think humans are awful. I was taught growing up that people are crap, but that hasn't been my experience at all. Now of course, there are a few people who rape or wantonly murder, and we put those people in jail so that they don't hurt others (there are often psychological or upbringing factors involved with these sorts of people). Sometimes people are racist or sexist, but this occurs for cultural and social reasons, not because people are at the core bad, and we have found that these are things we as humans have the power to move past. The truth is that the vast, vast, vast majority of people are wonderful and loving. Sure, they have their faults, but I'm not seeing a lot of "depravity" going on. Instead, I see potential. It may be hard to understand, but I really seriously don't look at other people and see depravity or sin. Jude – It's not that I have a problem with calling people out for their hypocrisy, but that's not the point of a video like this, which was created by a Baptist church, not an outside group. It's intent is to shame, not simply point out hypocrisy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Anonymous of 2:49 – One more note. While I don't see people in general as depraved or awful, I readily admit there are some who are – serial rapists and murders, as I said before, along with Hilter, Pol Pot, sadists, etc. I think where I differ from you, though, is that I see people in general as full of potential, and I see what limited depravity does occur as linked not to "sin" or "evil" but rather to natural causes – bad childhoods, mental illness, simple human weakness, etc. You say that Christianity provides away to understand "human suffering and degradation." This is what I don't get. My own atheist and humanist views allow me to understand "human suffering and degradation" without a problem. I really don't need Christianity, with its incessant droning about human depravity and worthlessness, to explain the world I see around me. In fact, I find that my atheist and humanist views explain suffering and depravity a whole lot better than does Christianity.

  • Wendy

    My husband refers to this mindset as "psychological flagellation. You don't have to use a whip on your own flesh, you can just tell yourself you suck all day long.

  • Cherí

    My depression often attacks me in the form of, "I'm not good enough." I thought this was merely due to my home life in childhood and adolescence, but this post reminded me that it was ingrained in me at church too, and how harmful that was. No wonder I have such a strong reaction against shaming and guilt-inducing things like this, like you do. Good job pointing it out!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Libs, can i take a stab at why I think the doctrine of "original sin" is false? =D I know this isn't a theological blog, so delete this if you don't want to go there. No prob.What we call "the sin nature", my therapist refers to as our "reptilian brain". Wish I had my anatomy book still, but I am pretty sure it's in the brain stem and is the control center for our sympathetic nervous system response. When human beings experience a trauma, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and initiates fear and anger, along with a fight, flight or freeze response. All of the external stimuli happening around us at the time of the trauma is stored as well, and this evolutionary adaptive process helps us recognize the danger repeating again and take defensive, evasive or hiding action.The catch is, we don't decide logically what is traumatic or not, our brain chooses for us, completely bypassing the frontal cortex where conscious thought occurs. And so by the experiences of life, we all become fearful and angry, some more than others. Preachers call this the sin nature. They get the nature part right, and also the idea that it can be really harmful to our self and others (my interpretation of the word "sin").But people are not born bad, they are born people. And if there were less violence in one generation, there would be less trauma in the next. That includes emotional trauma, so if there were less shaming and belittling in one generation, there would be more creativity and courage in the next.If you look at the teachings of Jesus, he advocated very much breaking down the walls of fear and shame, ending the violence and deprivation, and being generously good to one another. He was in that aspect, a humanist. No Christian theologian doubts that Christ was fully human and involved in humanity.The mystical parts of Christianity I will leave out of this discussion, suffice it to say that I believe God does exist and does help people who want a change/have needs/ etc. But most of the time, God works through people.I would much rather be friends with a humanist than a fundamentalist, because a humanist is truly wanting "they kingdom come, thy will be done" as far as the teachings of Jesus, than the fundamentalists who put together than shaming skit.Shaming exacerbates the "sin issue" or contributes to ongoing emotional trauma, triggering the stress hormone dump of the sympathetic nervous system and making the world that much less safe, nurturing, good.Okay, like I wrote earliet, delete if it's not the direction you want the discussion to go. I appreciate taking the time to type it out. It was good for me, anyway. =DHere's where I get all mystical, be warned.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    And if you don't delete it, accept this apology for all the typos. My family is patiently waiting for me to get off the computer and live life with them, so I skipped the editing process. Mea culpa.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "But the Good News is that Jesus earned our salvation for us so that we are now redeemed children of God."The bad news is that when you say "us", what you really mean is Christians, exclusively, which amounts to favoritism."Christ on the Cross offers an intimate view of suffering[...]"Yes, an innocent man (supposedly) suffered a brutal death – Roman execution style – so I don't have to suffer. Aside from my being unable to feel good about that, if what you believe is actually true, I'm going to suffer anyway, since I'm a former Christian-turned-Agnostic-Atheist who can no longer honestly believe.

  • Exrelayman

    "If you look at the teachings of Jesus, he advocated very much breaking down the walls of fear and shame, ending the violence and deprivation, and being generously good to one another. He was in that aspect, a humanist."Ah, wonderful Jesus. Forgetting that he had to be shamed into helping the goya woman because it was unseemly to give his blessing 'to the dogs'. Forgetting that he came not to bring peace, but a sword. Forgetting that in the old law adultery was a sin, but now the mere thought crime of lust is a sin thanks to that wonderful humanist Jesus. In the old law, the wages of sin was death. Thanks to that wonderful humanist Jesus, everlasting Hell comes into play.Forgetting also that the only records we have about an alleged Jesus come from his biased followers, at a time distance of some 30 to 100 years. Forgetting that no contemporary secular writer (and there were plenty) noticed such little details as Herod's slaughter of the infants – Josephus hated Herod and writes much criticism of Him but somehow never noticed this – or the resurrected saints in Jerusalem, or anything at all pertaining to Jesus.Sheesh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Wow! I have never ever heard anyone say that the Syro-Phoenician women shamed Jesus into helping her. Wow. I identity with her so much, Jesus asking her why she was asking him, a Jew, to help her, and her answer being that she was loved (just as I love my little dogs!). People still are violent against those who advocate peace, and especially the religious, which is why his command to love one another would incite those who wanted religion to remain a powerful political force would bring the sword against his followers.The mere thought of a woman's beauty is not lust, but every rapist thinks about his crime before he acts. Jesus pointing out that our wrongs start out as mental considerations first was revolutionary at the time, common knowledge now.And Jesus did not come up with a concept of eternal hell. That was the translators work that came after. What Jesus did talk about was the torment of regret for those who ignore and abuse "the least of these"- it had nothing to do with the eternity in hell for unbelievers that Christianity cooked up later.And if you completely discard the undocumented miracles, even the resurrection, there is no reason for the animosity. I am not an inerrantist, and am not the least bit troubled if Matthew embellished what were stories by then (it's not like it was an eyewitness account of the "slaughter of the innocents") in order to make the story "fit" better with Jewish expectations, so what?I know Jesus is not the only teacher to tell people to love their neighbor as their self, but he did set a higher bar by telling us to love even our enemies! You may have had his words about lust used to condemn you and shame you for normal human longing, but it was radical that Jesus was calling for men to show some respect in their thoughts about women.Your rant, and the misappropriation of his story by the religion that bears his name, won't deter me from seeing great beauty and wisdom in Jesus life and words. Not that you care, I know. But I am worth taking up for, so I am going to do it. Sheesh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Shadowspring – I did make sure to state that this is what evangelical and fundamentalist Christians do, because I am aware that there are some Christians who don't believe in original sin. Also, it appears to me that Jesus did believe in some sort of "eternal torment" after death and judgment, as he indicates in this parable: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sheep_and_the_Goats And in this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_man_and_LazarusNow you could say that these are only parables and Jesus didn't actually believe in eternal torment after death. But, if he didn't, why did he tell these parables without clarifying that? That just seems confusing!That said, I am aware that the current Christian version of hell was developed gradually over the hundreds of years that followed Jesus' life, and that we cannot at all assume that Jesus actually said all the things that the things the gospels attributed to him. I am also aware that the Greek and Hebrew words for hell vary both in form and in meaning. But still – I'm just saying, those parables do seem to indicate belief in some sort of eternal torture after death, and to be perfectly honest, both of them used to scare the heck out of me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "I know Jesus is not the only teacher to tell people to love their neighbor as their self"Then I'm curious—why do we presumably "need Jesus" if such basic "poetic truths" are not exclusive to "Christianity"? Or, wait—are you not advocating that everyone "needs Jesus"? It's hard to tell when interpretation of the face-value language is so personalized."[...] but he did set a higher bar by telling us to love even our enemies!"Which is actually quite stupid advice if your "ememies" are trying to unnecessarily harm or kill you and/or your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Oops!…"enemies". Darned gremlins!

  • chatterbox

    Although i left christianity 3 years ago, after a lifetime brought up in the evangelical church, the 'you're not good enough' message/core belief along with a few other significant ones (also related to christianity) came out in my first session with my (excellent!!) counsellor – i didnt realise that although i had left it all behind, the messages i was brought up with in the church were still deeply deeply effecting my life and dragging my down into depression and anxiety at every opportunity. I was still so vulnerable because of it all. -Now 6mths on i feel like a new person. I didnt realise how much these messages/beliefs were still effecting me and how deeply rooted in my psyche they were. Libby, you totally nailed it there – felt like crying when i read this post! The overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame etc – it makes me so angry that i was subjected to that for so long. Thankful my children wont be!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Libs,Better theologians than I have written exhaustive tomes and even friendly reads explaining the meanings of the words used and the bias of the translators in choosing how to relay the meaning of the text in English. Easy read: Rob Bell's "Love Wins". The weightier theological treatment: T. Talbot's "The Inescapable Love of God". Most notable about both parables (to me) is that the penalty comes to those who treat their fellow humans as worthless, forgettable, not their business. Reward also comes to those who treat their fellow humans as precious, and comfort to those who have suffered neglect from their fellow humans. In the story of Lazarus the beggar, the idea of individual responsiblity (no one can come rescue you) does not preclude the possibility (to my mind, inevitability) of divine rescue when the rich man finally stops being a self-involved user. Note that he expresses no regret for how he shamefully ignored the beggar, and still feels superior enough to the beggar to demand the beggar serve him. In the story of sheep and goats, the word translated eternal could (and is in most other instances) be translated to mean "intense". Even scientists who dismiss afterlife experiences as real note that intensity of emotion is a commonly related event. For what it's worth…And thanks for allowing me to be myself here. I appreciate it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    boomSLANGYes, that is what I propose. Jesus was not a fundamentalist preacher. I do believe He was divine as well as human, and as such that He did not/will not fail. His stated love was for all of humanity, and as such, I believe that He still and forever loves all of humanity. Although I was raised fundamentalist, I now believe that it is not the religion about Jesus that one needs to know union with Divine Love (i.e. salvation, for lack of a better word), but the reality of understanding/feeling/offering/trusting in that Love- in other words, reality over religion. So one can be an atheist, humanist, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic,etc. Indeed I think for many people raised in Augustinian Christianity, a full rejection of the faith they grew up with is a necessity for being able to experience/offer that divine Love.There,it's out in cyberspace. My relatives will damn me all to hell now, if they could. Lucky for me that isn't a real option, but the shunning I will receive for my beliefs will be real enough anyway.Gotta go to church now (not a fundamentalist church!). :p

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Shadowspring: I haven't read any legitimate scholar's take on Jesus view of hell, but I'm aware that there are a multiplicity of different words here and that the Jews most definitely did NOT have anything like what became the standard Christian view of hell. I'd love to read a book on the development of the concept of hell that took the subject from ancient Jewish beliefs through Jesus and on to Augustine. It would be quite fascinating. It would have to be by a scholar at a secular (or very mainline Christian, perhaps) university, because I have been very badly burned by lying fundamentalist and evangelical theologians and "Bible scholars." Let's just say I don't trust them one wit anymore. "I think for many people raised in Augustinian Christianity, a full rejection of the faith they grew up with is a necessity for being able to experience/offer that divine Love."One thing that really boggled my mind was the moment I realized that essentially every core Christian tenet was developed by the early church over the course of hundreds of years, and NOT straightforwardly laid out in the Bible. In reality, the Bible is a very bad book for a founding religious document – it doesn't simply explain or lay out ANYTHING. If I were God, I would have written something more like the Catholic Catechism, an orderly explanation of the faith rather than a hodge podge collection of histories and letters that often contradict each other and are definitely anything but clear. As I realized that heaven and hell, the substitutionary atonement, the trinity, all the Sunday School trite explanations were, well, quite possibly extraBiblical, I was shocked. I realized that my parents and others like them trust church leaders and church interpretations of the Bible, not the Bible itself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "Yes, that is what I propose."Okay. So, you are in fact advocating that we all "need Jesus". Fair enough. Unless I missed it, I don't see the "why?", part. So? Why? You concede that Jesus' teachings are not exclusive to Christianity. Okay, then what *good reasons do I need to believe in, extol, and follow the teachings of "Jesus"? Also, what (do you believe) will happen to me if I reject Jesus' teachings, and if it's anything negative, can you provide the specific scripture that supports your position? I'm curious to see how you arrived where you're at.*For me, "good reasons" would have to include the use of logic and reason. "I do believe [Jesus] was divine as well as human, and as such that He did not/will not fail."Again, if word-meanings actually mean something; if logic means something, then the "human" aspect of "Jesus" – whatever the ratio of human to "divine" – says that, yes, "Jesus" can fail. In fact, when I read some of the passages of the NT, I see said character failing left and right as a humanitarian."but the reality of understanding/feeling/offering/trusting in that Love- in other words, reality over religion."I'm all for "reality over religion", too. My "reality", and yours, are obviously different, though. I have yet to see any objective evidence that people who believe that they are tapped into "Divine Love", as opposed to plain ol' humanitarian love, love any better and/or have better relationships. "So one can be an atheist, humanist, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic,etc."What do you mean when you say one "can be [etc., etc.]"? Do you mean, by choice? Do you mean, without negative consequences? 'Seems very vague—borderline, equivocal. In any case, surely you recognize that people don't choose to be an atheist, right? Belief is a choice, yes, but non-belief is not necessarily a choice. And what about Jesus' advice to love our enemies? Can you keep a straight face and tell me that if my enemy were outside my door and wanted me and my family dead, that I should remain calm and think about how to best show "love" toward them?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "Even scientists who dismiss afterlife experiences as real note that intensity of emotion is a commonly related event."Except that scientists don't "dismiss afterlife experiences as real"; they dismiss them as experiences taking place in a brain that has trace amounts of oxygen..i.e..a brain that is not fully dead, despite that the patient may have flat-lined. Also, if people near death who "experience" things is evidence of an "afterlife", then why aren't the non-experiences of those near death evidence of no "afterlife"?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Fair enough on the first paragraph, and on the second, of course you know better. You can't prove something doesn't exist because not everyone in the world has experienced it. Science doesn't do that. In medical trials, for example, one does not need a 100% correlation between drug, patient and benefit to proceed to market the drug as beneficial. It is enough if it helps some, as long as the help is tangible to those some. Not knowing how or why it helps some and not others does not change the fact of benefit to some. It just means the scientist has run up on a deficit of knowledge in our most current understanding of physiology/chemistry.But yes, I do not mean that scientists dismiss the reality of the experience itself, what I meant is that they dismiss the notion that the experiences were happening in another dimension (they can't yet, as there is no way to prove or experiment on a spiritual dimension if one exists beyond our ability to sense- by definition!) and concentrate on the chemical/electrical forces at work in the dying brain- which is all one can expect from science.My own mystical experiences mirror near death experiences in many ways, yet I was not dying when they occurred. Maybe I have a uniquely amazing brain, but then perhaps the evolution of our brains will indeed one day give us sense for dimensions hitherto unknown to man. Hope springs eternal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "Fair enough on the first paragraph, and on the second, of course you know better. You can't prove something doesn't exist because not everyone in the world has experienced it. Science doesn't do that."Precisely—science doesn't do that, because, of course, science doesn't set out to "prove something doesn't exist". Why? Because it's not science's job nor burden to prove things do not exist. If "not everyone in the world" is experiencing, say, being abducted by aliens, then correct, that is not conclusive evidence that people are not being abducted. The conclusive evidence(if any exists) must come from those insisting that they've been abducted. I would contend that it is you who should know better. "[...] what I meant is that they dismiss the notion that the experiences were happening in another dimension""As they should, until/unless proven by science.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "(they can't yet, as there is no way to prove or experiment on a spiritual dimension if one exists beyond our ability to sense- by definition!)"To that, I say, how convenient. Similarly, just like invisible gremlins, by definition, can't be proven to not be the cause of lost sunglasses or missing car keys. We can't know for sure, because the gremlins are, of course, invisible and not detectable with the physical senses. To conclude, as factual knowledge(as opposed to opinion), that gremlins exist and are responsible for the missing or lost items is fallacious reasoning. The same is true of those who conclude that their experiences are occurring in a "spiritual dimension" because science cannot disprove that they are."Maybe I have a uniquely amazing brain[...]"Maybe, but I would put my money on a highly imaginative brain, before uniquely amazing one."[...] but then perhaps the evolution of our brains will indeed one day give us sense for dimensions hitherto unknown to man."Assuming such dimensions are anywhere but our heads, perhaps. "Hope springs eternal."I'm not even sure what that means.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Good Lord, BOOMslang, I have never once seen shadowspring be illogical or unreasonable, or imply that people who practice her religion are better than people who practice, say, my religion or no religion, or really espouse anything but acceptance and love. It is really not fair to make her a whipping boy ( or girl) for the abuses you and others faced at the hands of fundamentalism. Sheesh.Lots of thought-provoking stuff here, which I can't possibly address all of. On the problem of human evil–well, obviously, I don't believe in original sin and I have a hard time seeing how that teaching can come out to anything but "you suck." But I do think there is a lot of evil in this world and it can't all be chalked up to people like Hitler. Hitler wouldn't have been Hitler if a whole lot of normal, decent people hadn't supported or condoned his agenda. My grandmother grew up in a mostly gentile community in Eastern Europe and nearly all of her family's neighbors turned against them when the Nazis took over, or just looked the other way without a care as their freedoms were gradually taken away and, finally, they were deported to Auschwitz. She even told me that, before their deportation, a neighbor girl with whom she'd been friendly all her life asked her for her new shoes since she "wouldn't need them anymore."And that girl haunts me way more than does Hitler. Because we don't need to be vigilant to make sure we're not Hitler. It's easy to not kill millions of people. But we do have to be vigilant to make sure we're not that neighbor girl, passive, apathetic, easily led, unwilling to see–or at least, to care–what's going on around us because seeing and caring would ask things of us that we don't want to give. Everyone (well almost everyone) hates Hitler, but if there were another Hitler in our midst, how many of us would be the people that we hope we are? I don't know.So yes, there is great evil in this world and the most disturbing thing about it is that it mostly happens because regular old people don't stop it.But the thing is, history also shows us a lot of every-day heroism–the people who helped to shelter Jews or get them out of Europe, Dunkirk, the underground railroad…there is a good side and bad side to human nature and we have the power to choose the good and I think we have the power to evolve morally as a society. We don't need anyone to redeem us. We can redeem ourselves through our own free will. I don't know if it will actually happen or if we'll nuke ourselves or destroy our environment first but we've got a shot. It's hope. That's pretty much how I see things–we don't NEED to suck even if we often do. lol

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Also, on the video itself: it's really interesting to see it contextualized by people who actually grew up in this environment because a lot of the stuff you guys are talking about would have gone right over my head. If I'd just seen this without commentary, I probably would have thought, for the first minute or so, that it was sort of a tongue-in-cheek, self-effacing "haha, isn't it funny how boring church can be sometimes?" kind of thing. Then it gradually does seem to turn more guilt-tripping but I still would probably have thought of it as not something that's supposed to be taken that seriously. I would never imagine that it could have the triggering, dark implications it does to so many of you here. But I can see it now. Ugh.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Shadowspring and BoomSLANG – Your disagreement here seems to center on whether or not the spiritual exists. The one of you takes an evidentialist scientific point of view and concludes that it does not while the other argues that evidentialist science as it now operates is insufficient to find the spiritual, which rests in individual metaphysical experiences. You two are coming from different starting points, and I think that's what's keeping you from finding common ground here. Personally, I'm 100% with BoomSLANG on this one. But that said, we're all entitled to our own views, and to stating those views and explaining our reasoning, even if others thing those views are wrong. All that aside, I don't think that either of you is going to convince the other, at least in this forum of discussion, and I also think this has gotten really off topic. I don't know if this makes any sense, but my goal for these comment threads is for them to be places for discussion rather than debate, and for the goal to be understanding each other rather than proving each other wrong.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Also, I'm with Petticoat Philosopher – Just because I disagree with Shadowspring and think she's wrong on this issue doesn't mean I think she's stupid or ignorant or uneducated. I really think the problem is not so much with logic as with different starting points – based on her experiences, Shadowspring assumes that the spiritual exists even if science doesn't back that up, and based on our experiences, BoomSLANG and I would rather stick with what can be tested than with untestable spiritual experiences, which we have both found in our own lives to be false and invented.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Petticoat Philosopher – " I would never imagine that it could have the triggering, dark implications it does to so many of you here. But I can see it now. Ugh." I think that's why The Friendly Atheist posted it simply to laugh at, like, "look, haha, even Christians can laugh at themselves!" He didn't grow up a Christian, so he wouldn't have had the background to see that that's not what the video is really about, at least to believers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "Good Lord, BOOMslang, I have never once seen shadowspring be illogical or unreasonable[...]"Petticoat Philosopher,Nowhere have I said that Shadowspring is being illogical, albeit, I believe that she is illogical on at least one aspect of Christianity. I merely said that, for sake of discussion, when/if I ask for a "good reason" why I should believe something from my interlocuter(in this case, when she tells me, point-blank, that I "need" something..i.e.."Jesus"), that said reason must coincide with logic and reason. Is that so bad? Really?"[...]or imply that people who practice her religion are better than people who practice, say, my religion or no religion, or really espouse anything but acceptance and love."Again, nowhere have said anything about one group of people being "better" than another. If you don't like my straight-forward approach, then that's one thing. But inventing things to object to isn't going to be helpful in finding common ground. "[...] you are It is really not fair to make her a whipping boy ( or girl) for the abuses you and others faced at the hands of fundamentalism."Good grief, 'got melodrama? I'm not making anyone a "whipping boy(or girl)"; I'm simply challenging some of the assertions being made here—and BTW, here's a question for you: did you ever stop to think that when Christians second-guess the experiences(non-experiences) of former believers that it can be just as insulting as what you are attempting to make me out to be?"Sheesh."Indeed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "You two are coming from different starting points, and I think that's what's keeping you from finding common ground here" ~ Libby AnneActually, this isn't entirely true. If I've understood correctly, you didn't start from where you're at now, and neither did I. I started from a Christian perspective. On the other hand, I will concede that one cannot "unring" a bell = )"All that aside, I don't think that either of you is going to convince the other, at least in this forum of discussion[...]"Totally, 100% agreed. On the other hand, when I was experiencing doubt as former believer, it was reading exchanges like this as a silent lurker that helped come to grips with a few things: 1) it's not "evil" to doubt(actually, it's good to doubt), and 2) believing things on bad evidence(or no evidence) isn't a good thing, and in fact, in extreme cases, it makes the planet we live on a more dangerous place than it needs to be."I also think this has gotten really off topic."Fair enough.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    BoomSLANG – "Actually, this isn't entirely true. If I've understood correctly, you didn't start from where you're at now, and neither did I. I started from a Christian perspective."Sorry, I guess I was unclear. I meant different starting points NOW. You and I today start from an evidential scientific perspective and go from there, while Shadowspring (and Petticoat Philosopher as well I believe) do not.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "Then I'm curious—why do we presumably "need Jesus" if such basic "poetic truths" are not exclusive to "Christianity"? Or, wait—are you not advocating that everyone "needs Jesus"? It's hard to tell when interpretation of the face-value language is so personalized."This statement seems to imply that you believe shadowspring to have some kind Christian supremacist attitude–with a passive-aggressive accusation of bias thrown in. I don't see it. I did not hear her say that we all "need" to believe in Jesus, in fact, what she seems to be saying is that one can be any religion or no religion and still access "divine love" if we we live good, altruistic lives. I don't believe in Jesus or divine love so, obviously, I disagree but I see nothing in this belief that is worthy of the contempt you repeatedly heap on her. And if you cannot see how your condescending, sarcastic tone is contemptuous, I don't really know what to tell ya. Your own words speak much better than mine ever could.Your approach is not "straight forward," it's aggressive and rude. There is a way to challenge a person's views without making them out to be a superstitious simpleton.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "You and I today start from an evidential scientific perspective and go from there, while Shadowspring (and Petticoat Philosopher as well I believe) do not."Well, I don't know that I'm comfortable with that characterization. I think the evidential scientific perspective is indispensable, I just don't think it's the only tool in the kit. And, as I've said before, this has as much to do with my humanities-student-informed objection to the popular "science is the only way to know anything useful" attitude as it does with any of my religious or spiritual views.And, really, this is the reason why I'm more I'm generally more likely to talk about my sex life than I am likely to talk about my feelings about religion and spirituality. I feel like the moment I open my mouth, I need to get filed under "science" or "not science" and my entire point is that I don't see science and spirituality as mutually exclusive.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "You and I today start from an evidential scientific perspective and go from there, while Shadowspring (and Petticoat Philosopher as well I believe) do not."True; understood, and I know what you meant. I made the distinction because believers often times forget that our "starting point" was just like theirs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Petticoat Philosopher and BoomSLANG – If there's anything I've learned from internet debates its that there are different styles of argumentation. Some people are direct and blunt, and others try their darndest not to hurt anyone's feelings. Another thing I've learned from internet debates is that it's important to grow a thick skin and not be easily offended. Petticoat Philosopher, I'm sorry you think BoomSLANG is being rude, but I don't think that's his intent. Also, I don't think Shadowspring has felt hurt by what BoomSLANG has said (at least, from what I can read of her responses). In fact, Shadowspring has been pretty blunt herself (saying things like "you know better than that"). I ask that people try to respect each other, but not that they necessarily respect each other's views, and I'm fine with people being blunt. I ask that people please not be easily offended by what others say, but I do ask that people not resort to ad hominems. And I'm going to repeat this: I would prefer to keep conversations in comment threads to the level of discussion, not debate. And once more, this discussion is very off topic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Petticoat Philosopher – I actually use the scientific method in my humanities work. I see it as the best way to get at truth. What else do we really have beyond our senses and evidence to observe? Intuition? Faulty. Spiritual feelings? They can lie, and have actual neurological bases that can be studied scientifically. All I have is my senses and a world to explore, and so that's what I go with.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Libby, you're right, it's not my job to referee other people's discussions and I'm sorry if I'm meddling. :-P It's just that I've often been characterized by others is "blunt" and I'm naturally a pretty sarcastic person. But I'm approaching this as someone who had to adapt my style of philosophical discussion to a scholastic environment, in which you will get a stern talking-to if you insinuate that someone else's views are tantamount to believing in invisible gremlins who steal your sunglasses. This is not a scholastic environment, of course, it's the internet. But I guess I just believe in scholastic discipline, and I find that people listen to you more when you don't treat them like fools. Still, that's my issue.Also, I admit it's somewhat personal for me because I've ended up in a lot of conversations with militant atheists where I get treated like I'm carrying water for fundamentalism–and generally fundamentalist Christianity, since most Americans at least have failed to grasp that Judaism is not simply Christianity with Jesus taken out. (I hate the way most people use the term "Judeo-Christian"–they usually just mean Christian, and a certain type of Christian.) And I end up thinking "This is ridiculous, I am a super-liberal Jew being asked to answer for teachings about Hell and lectured on the evils of religious persecution (because, you know, what would a Jew know about something like that? lol). So I guess my hackles go up when I see liberal Christians having their opinions and feelings presumed by others to be exclusionary and ignorant. I get it.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "I actually use the scientific method in my humanities work. I see it as the best way to get at truth. What else do we really have beyond our senses and evidence to observe?"Well, I guess it's all in how you define "scientific." All the humanities use evidence and observation and logic. Historians have to cite plenty of evidence to support their views. Logic is a cornerstone of formal philosophical argument. But I don't see these things as "the scientific method" as used in science, which involves measurable data and a whole of other things that don't really apply when constructing arguments and hypotheses in the humanities. So I prefer not to speak as if logic, observation, and evidence were purely the province of science that the humanities borrow for their own uses–these things belong just as much to the humanities as to the sciences and it's a shame to see how devalued the humanities are. That's why pseudo-science like most evolutionary psychology gets taken seriously (Look! Charts! Graphs! Sciencey-sounding language!) and the sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists and other humanities scholars that criticize that field get dismissed as "biased".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Petticoat Philosopher – I think the reason you may have gotten in trouble with "militant atheists" in the past is that in some sense defending spiritual thinking in any way does serve to legitimate others whose spiritual thinking differs from yours in that it harms others by legitimating spiritual thinking in the first place. Here's the thing: once you okay spiritual thinking (which by definition can't be tested), you have literally NO WAY to distinguish which is true and which isn't. So you can say "my spiritual thinking is fine, but that fundamentalist's over there isn't." But why? Why is yours okay and his isn't? He believes his as much as you and has just as much proof (metaphysical experience) as you. I'm totally serious – you may think your views are right, but so do my parents, and on the exact same basis. So who's right? There is no real way to tell, so it seems to me that if you okay the one you really have to okay the other. I simply call it all bullshit and stick with what we CAN know as I search for truth. I actually think the militant atheist argument makes a lot of sense, but I have too much of a desire to work with others who share my basic values but not my beliefs about the spiritual and place too much value on freedom of religion to make it an issue when I talk to believers like you and Shadowspring. Note: If you say something about whether the spiritual beliefs cause harm or cause good to be done being a dividing line between okay spirituality and not okay spirituality, I would simply point out that from my parents' perspective, their beliefs don't cause any harm – the only harm is caused by people who refuse to follow them. It's a perspective thing, and determining what is and is not harm can become subjective (for instance, my parents believe that not spanking a child harms her, and is even tantamount to child abuse). It's all so subjective that I find it's much, much simpler to throw out every sort of mystical or spiritual thinking and simply go with what we can actually factually KNOW.That said, in practice, when it comes to working with someone who is spiritual, I do tend to discriminate based on whether their beliefs cause harm or not, defining "harm" by my own non-spiritual definitions of what is right and what is wrong. So I would readily work with you and Shadowspring, as I don't think your beliefs actual cause any real concrete harm, but I would have a problem working with an evangelical who is trying to ban abortion or end welfare, both of which I would see as causing harm.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    @ Libby Anne,Thx for the benefit of the doubt. I appreciate it. And no, it is not my intent to be rude. In these discussions, if someone – Muslim, Christian, Scientologist, whatever – says, explicitly, or implicitly, that I need to believe as they do, then that is a bold claim and I believe that I'm entitled to a good reason why I need to. I defined what I mean/meant by "good", and I also asked for clarification as to whether or not Shadowspring was advocating that everyone needs to believe as she does, to which she said…"Yes, that is what I propose". Based on that, I challenged her further. I don't think I am being unreasonable(or rude)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Petticoat Philosopher: "So I prefer not to speak as if logic, observation, and evidence were purely the province of science that the humanities borrow for their own uses–these things belong just as much to the humanities as to the sciences and it's a shame to see how devalued the humanities are." You're right, it's a definitional thing. What you call "logic, observation, and evidence" I call "the scientific method." I also think that these things should be applied more in the humanities than they are (I have seen fellow grad students completely reject them and say instead that "I'm just going to let the sources speak to me, and then write them down like poetry.") I completely agree on the fetish for graphs, though. You don't need graphs to prove that you are using logic, evidence, and observation. :-P

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I think you're conflating spiritual views with moral views and, to be fair, a lot of religious people also do this and I think that is when the trouble starts.And I disagree strongly with the idea that the difference between me and fundamentalists is only a matter of degree. There are some VERY important ways in which my approach to religion differs completely from that of fundamentalists:For one thing, I consider my spiritual views to be separate from my moral views. My spiritual views (and I hesitate to even call them views, because they are more ideas and wonderings than anything concrete that I am sure of.) are morally neutral. I do believe that there is stuff out there that is not observable by our senses (and, ironically, I think science shows that more convincingly than religion ever could), I do believe that there is a non-physical component to sentient beings (or maybe even just a physical one that we don't understand yet or can't understand) that I call a soul and that something has to happen to that component after the body dies. I don't know what that is and I don't think it's particularly important for me to know because right now, I'm alive and that's what I need to focus on.But these views do not really have any moral implications for me. They exist entirely separately from my views about how humans should treat each other, what our responsibilities are, and how we can best create a kinder, more humane society. I do not think my spiritual speculations make me a better person, or that they give me access to a higher morality than people who believe differently. I obviously have reasons for feeling as I do, but I'm not particularly invested in being right. I don't even think that everybody else has to necessarily be wrong–I think there are multiple ways of conceptualizing the same things and that there's more than one right answer. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, do conflate their spiritual views with their moral views, in the sense that they believe that their spiritual views are necessary to arrive at the "correct" morality. Completely aside from whether or not I believe their morality is correct (obviously I don't), I just don't believe that a person's spiritual musings or beliefs have much to do with the practical, day-to-day, right-and-wrong issues of living in this world. So, basically, I DO think that everybody else's spiritual thinking is okay, just as okay as my own. I reserve my judgments for moral thinking, which IS something that can be debated. That's what moral philosophy is all about. (and yes, harm vs. good caused by moral beliefs comes into play a lot in moral philosophical arguments.)So there's an important distinction between the way I look at spirituality and the way fundamentalists look at spirituality. I think that spiritual beliefs should be viewed as SEPARATE from moral beliefs and behavior. Fundamentalists, for the most part, believe that correct moral beliefs and behavior FOLLOW from correct spiritual beliefs. Which means that other people's spiritual beliefs are open to judgment in a way that they are not in my own worldview. I would argue that my view is inherently more tolerant and should be viewed as a different animal. Spirituality means something different to me than it does to fundamentalists.Ironically, when I debate with militant atheists, they often end up telling me that I'm actually an atheist and just haven't realized it yet, because my way of doing religion doesn't fit in with their ideas about what religion is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    PP – I didn't mean to say that there is no difference at all between the spiritual views of, say, a mystic and those of a fundamentalist. What I said is that there is no way to distinguish which are for sure true so long as the spiritual realm resides in personal experience rather than evidence and testability. I never said the difference is "just in degree." Once you okay the existence of things outside of the testable and evidence-based there seems to be no way to distinguish truth. That is all that I meant, not that your beliefs are identical to theirs in all but degree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "What I said is that there is no way to distinguish which are for sure true so long as the spiritual realm resides in personal experience rather than evidence and testability." ~ Libby AnneVery well said, and so true. Once one accepts as "true" things for which there is no testable/falsifiable evidence – sometimes referred to as accepting things "on faith" – the flood gate opens for what "truth" is. There is literally an infinite list of things that can be "true". In some cases, very dangerous, IMO.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10771405085138024959 Lydia

    But I don't particularly have an interest in "distinguishing the truth" when it comes to spirituality. I see spirituality as a purely speculative exercise. Once again, I have no interest in proving myself right and others wrong. I enjoy the intellectual exercise of discussing differences in spiritual views and how various people arrived at them. There are certain spiritual views which I consider to be very unlikely, even silly and I can absolutely explain my reasoning behind those opinions. But I don't really care because I don't see them as having anything to do with the things that are of practical importance in this world, like moral behavior. Therefore, I don't see them as subject to moral judgment. Once that's established, who cares about being sure of what's true? I am not sure of what's true. To me, spirituality, is about speculating, wondering, philosophizing about what MIGHT be true and I fully accept that those questions cannot be answered with any kind of certainty. I guess in some ways I'm an "agnostic believer."Also, I wouldn't say my views are based on personal experience. For me, the biggest logical problem with atheism (as it is conceptualized by a lot of atheists) is that is seems to presume that we basically know how the universe works and now we just have to fill in the little gaps in our knowledge and understanding. If that's true than it makes perfect sense to believe that physical existence is all there is or that, when we die, the conscious part of ourselves simply disappears (NOTE: I'm not claiming to know what happens to it but I just think it's unlikely that something can be and then not be–after all, that's not true of matter or energy). But why should we assume that it's true? It seems we've always felt that way about what we know. We felt that way when we thought the earth was flat–and, really, this is not a foolish notion if you think about it. If you're standing in the middle of Iowa, your senses certainly tell you that the earth is flat. You can even use a tool, like a level, to measure the flatness of the ground you are standing on. But the stars and the oceans tell us something different. We just hadn't learned how to see and hear what they told us yet.So how do I know we're that much further along than we were? Again, we are little specks that have existed for a moment. Does it really make sense that we'd be that close to understanding everything? When you look at it that way, so many more things seem possible. And, even now, science is now telling us things that seem deeply, deeply weird and counterintuitive to all the things that we've taken for granted about the way the universe is until very recently. (Schrodinger's Cat….Whooooooooaaaaa, dude! lol)So basically, a lot of atheist views seem unlikely to me for the same reason that a lot of traditional religious ones do. They just seem to rely on too many assumptions about what we know and how much we know. It would be nice to believe that we are such masters of the universe that we basically get how it all works and just need to work out the kinks. But it would also be nice to believe that there's a really nice place that I will go to when I die where I will see all my loved ones. Both these beliefs just seem too specific to be likely, given all the infinite possibility out there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10771405085138024959 Lydia

    whoops! Posted under a different name by mistake. Damn google!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "There are certain spiritual views which I consider to be very unlikely, even silly and I can absolutely explain my reasoning behind those opinions."Me, too. For instance, that group known as Heaven's Gate who combined Christianity with UFOlogy, believing that their bodies were only vessels to reach another dimension, yadda, yadda. Also, the idea that Muslims killing non-Muslims will get the killer 72 virgins in paradise is kind of silly, too, since, well, they must be running out of virgins by now."But I don't really care because I don't see them as having anything to do with the things that are of practical importance in this world, like moral behavior."Really? Wasn't it immoral for the Heaven's Gaters to commit group suicide? Wasn't it immoral for the 19 Muslim hijackers to fly planes into our buildings? Isn't that good evidence that "silly" beliefs can have deadly consequences and moral implications? Personally, I think so."For me, the biggest logical problem with atheism (as it is conceptualized by a lot of atheists) is that is seems to presume that we basically know how the universe works and now we just have to fill in the little gaps in our knowledge and understanding"Don't the two statements contradict? If "we"(or just Atheists) "know how the universe works", what gaps can there be in our understanding of it? 'Seems like a strawman, IMO.

  • Final Anonymous

    Lydia / Petticoat Philosopher — I heart you. You've described my views perfectly.And greetings from another practitioner of that weird in-between spirituality! ; )

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "Wasn't it immoral for the 19 Muslim hijackers to fly planes into our buildings?"Yes. But there are plenty of Muslims that aren't motivated to fly planes into buildings by their spiritual beliefs, or to harm people in any way. Muslim terrorists kill people because they believe that their spiritual beliefs make them morally superior to others, so superior that they have a right to decide who lives and who dies. That is conflating spirituality with morality (to the extreme) which is exactly the fundamentalist approach to spirituality that I rejected. I don't believe that people's spiritual views should figure into our moral judgment of them. Muslim terrorists and other fundamentalists do. That is the essential difference I was illustrating between the two approaches to spirituality.So this is basically an is/ought misunderstanding. Just because I don't think spirituality and morality SHOULD be equated doesn't mean that I deny that other religious people equate them. Clearly they do–that's what a big part of what fundamentalism is. Trust me, I get it. Once again, the fact that people do evil things to others in the name of religion is something that Jews generally have a pretty good handle on. :-P "Don't the two statements contradict? If "we"(or just Atheists) "know how the universe works", what gaps can there be in our understanding of it? 'Seems like a strawman, IMO."How do they contradict? The view I was referring to seems to assume that we (as in humans) BASICALLY know how the universe works, but not COMPLETELY–we have a few more things to figure out but we are pretty much done. What is contradictory about this?And it's not a straw man. This is an assumption that I often see as underlying a lot of atheist arguments (or, I guess I should specify materialist atheists in particular). If you feel that it does not represent you, feel free to elaborate.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Previously, me: "Wasn't it immoral for the 19 Muslim hijackers to fly planes into our buildings?"You: "Yes. But [...]"Then I made my point..i.e…some people's spiritual beliefs – beliefs that you and I might find "silly" and/or irrational – most certainly have moral implications."[...] there are plenty of Muslims that aren't motivated to fly planes into buildings by their spiritual beliefs, or to harm people in any way"Agreed. I've not said or even suggested otherwise."I don't believe that people's spiritual views should figure into our moral judgment of them"I don't understand. I thought you just agreed that the Muslim hijacker's spiritual views led them to behavior that is "immoral". Is that not a "moral judgment" of them?"How do they contradict? The view I was referring to seems to assume that we (as in humans) BASICALLY know how the universe works, but not COMPLETELY–we have a few more things to figure out but we are pretty much done. What is contradictory about this?"I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems to me that you are assuming that that's what 'whoever' is assuming. When you say "we", I take it that you're talking scientists/materialists(who know more than you and me), and if so, I've yet to encounter a scientist/materialist who is of the position that, "we have the universe figured out", either, in full, or even "basically". Thus, I think this portrayal, "Oh, we just have a few more things to figure out about the universe" is a caricature of a the materialist/scientific position. It portrays the position in a light that makes it sound ridiculous, and therefore, easier to knock down. That is a variant of a strawman, as I understand the term.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "I don't understand. I thought you just agreed that the Muslim hijacker's spiritual views led them to behavior that is "immoral". Is that not a "moral judgment" of them?"Yes it is. I never said I don't morally judge people. I said I don't morally judge people FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS. And I'm not. I am judging them for their moral behavior and moral beliefs–the behavior of killing people, and the moral belief that their spiritual views give them the right to do this. I am not judging the spiritual views themselves, because other, perfectly decent people, follow the same belief system but just don't happen to think that doing so makes them any better or gives them any rights over other people's lives and behavior. But the moment you start thinking that your spiritual beliefs make you better than others, you have entered into the realm of the moral because that is a moral position. Thus, it, and any behavior that it motivates, are subject to moral judgment. But you don't have to go there. You can just have your spiritual beliefs and let other people's have there's without attaching moral worth to them. This is what I do. This is not what terrorists do. And for that I judge them. There's nothing inconsistent about it."I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems to me that you are assuming that that's what 'whoever' is assuming."Fair enough. I was a bit glib and I have not cited examples of what I mean. I was trying to keep things a little shorter, since these comments are already quite unwieldy. But it seems to me that thinking that way is the only way that a lot of materialist atheist arguments make sense. Can one really say with such total confidence that, out of all the options of what could happen to consciousness after the body dies, "it becomes nothing" is the conclusive answer if you don't believe that we know BASICALLY everything there is to know about what consciousness is and how it relates to the rest of the universe? Btw, not all scientists are materialists or atheists. And most atheists are not scientists. And plenty of religious and/or spiritual people are scientists, or at least love and respect science. Again, these dichotomies just don't work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Guys, this is COMPLETELY off topic here!Science does not have to negate religion, and I don't think anyone is saying it does. However, science deals with the physical world, while the spiritual world is (according to nearly everyone) outside of the physical and untestable. Thus it is totally possible for scientists to also be religious – they generally see the physical world and the spiritual world as separate. I see no evidence for the spiritual world, and actually a good bit of evidence against it. I therefore conclude that there is no such thing. If the evidence before my changes, I'll adjust my views. I'm not a dogmatist; rather, I am interested in truth. But like I said, at this point I'm pretty certain given everything I have seen, studied, and experienced, that there there is no God and that the spiritual world is not real but rather something people invent. Feel free to disagree, it's no skin off my back.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "I never said I don't morally judge people. I said I don't morally judge people FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS. And I'm not. I am judging them for their moral behavior and moral beliefs."In the case of the hijackers, they get their "moral beliefs" directly from "THEIR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS". I believe you know this. In any case, I see a distinction without much of a difference. "You can just have your spiritual beliefs and let other people's have there's without attaching moral worth to them."Maybe you can, but no, I cannot, since at least some "spiritual" people(if not most) get their morality directly from their spiritual beliefs, and they make no apologies for doing so. Thus, I cannot agree that the two aren't attached in those cases. It's especially hard to not attach the two when the Qu'ran is unambiguous when it condones killing the infidel(non-Muslims), and even talks about the finer points of doing so."But it seems to me that thinking that way is the only way that a lot of materialist atheist arguments make sense."And again, "that way of thinking" is the very part I'm contending is not what Atheists/materialists are actually thinking. It might make sense to you that they'd think that way. I think most Atheists/materialists will contend that the scientific method is the most reliable way for finding what is true *about* the universe. Yes. But it hardly follows that said people are saying "we have a few more things to figure out but we are pretty much done." "Can one really say with such total confidence that, out of all the options of what could happen to consciousness after the body dies, 'it becomes nothing' is the conclusive answer if you don't believe that we know BASICALLY everything there is to know about what consciousness is and how it relates to the rest of the universe?"Everything about human "consciousness" and everything about "the universe" are quite different in scope, in which case, my answer is no, I don't believe we'd need to know everything about the universe to know that consciousness most likely ends when the brain that generates it, dies.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    BTW, science is provisional, so it's never "done". Only religion is "done", since it claims to know/be Ultimate Truth.

  • Final Anonymous

    If the hijackers got their moral beliefs and subsequent behavior directly from their (yucky bad) spiritual beliefs, why aren't all Muslims ramming planes into buildings or aiming missles at the United States?

  • Final Anonymous

    "I'm pretty certain given everything I have seen, studied, and experienced, that there there is no God and that the spiritual world is not real but rather something people invent."With all due respect, that sounds pretty condescending to me.Because you have not experienced spirituality the way others have, you declare that it must not exist at all, and that spiritual people apparently have a very good and poorly disciplined imagination.Maybe others have come to different conclusions about the existence of God because they have seen, studied, and experienced differently than you have.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "Maybe you can, but no, I cannot, since at least some "spiritual" people(if not most) get their morality directly from their spiritual beliefs, and they make no apologies for doing so. Thus, I cannot agree that the two aren't attached in those cases."Yes, many people do link spirituality and morality. The two ARE attached in those cases. But they don't have to be and I think that's a bad idea. I've already said this, like, 3 times. I'm getting tired of repeating myself. I don't see how we actually disagree, but then, I'm not invested in everything being a conflict.". It's especially hard to not attach the two when the Qu'ran is unambiguous when it condones killing the infidel(non-Muslims), and even talks about the finer points of doing so."Well, I'm not going to speak for Muslims and for how they deal with the dark sides of their scripture. I figure Muslims have got enough people who don't really know what they're talking about speaking for them right now and speculating about all the craaaaazy things they must believe. I'd imagine that many of them, like many people of other religions, have a historical perspective on their scripture and thus recognize that some aspects of it are products of attitudes that are no longer acceptable. Two of my best friends from college were liberal Muslims from Pakistan and neither ever tried to kill me."And again, "that way of thinking" is the very part I'm contending is not what Atheists/materialists are actually thinking. It might make sense to you that they'd think that way."Dare I even ask why "it might make sense to me that they'd think that way?" Atheism is not some mind-blowing concept that my puny little religious brain is incapable of contemplating, okay? It's a point-of-view that I interrogated and found lacking. I was an atheist for several years. Half my family identifies as atheist. I grew up around atheists. I have had a little experience and time to reflect upon what I see as some of the problematic assumptions that underlie the beliefs of many materialist atheists. I am not speaking form a place of ignorance. That doesn't mean I think that all atheists are the same. Atheists are not "other" to me. My freaking dad is one."I think most Atheists/materialists will contend that the scientific method is the most reliable way for finding what is true *about* the universe. Yes. But it hardly follows that said people are saying "we have a few more things to figure out but we are pretty much done.""It doesn't have to follow. But it often seems to anyway."Everything about human "consciousness" and everything about "the universe" are quite different in scope"Different in scope but possibly related, according to some ideas put forth in quantum theory.But what would I know, right? I'm just one of the religious zombie horde that needs to have things explained to her like "science is provisional, so it's never "done"." It's funny, when I don't say anything about my spiritual beliefs, or the fact that I associate with a religion, many atheists assume I am also an atheist because I clearly have a brain. But if I let them catch the faintest whiff of the fact that I am not one, all of a sudden I am an idiot who needs to have the basic principles of science laid out for me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Final Anonymous – "With all due respect, that sounds pretty condescending to me.Because you have not experienced spirituality the way others have, you declare that it must not exist at all, and that spiritual people apparently have a very good and poorly disciplined imagination."No, it's not condescending, it's simply stating my beliefs, just like you are! This is my blog, and I have every right to do so! I have every right to be an atheist, and I do not have to apologize for my conclusion that based on everything that I know at this point that there is no God, and that anyone who thinks there is is mistaken. You are doing the same thing when you insist that there is a God (or the spiritual, or whatever), and that I am mistaken, but somehow you think I need to be apologetic and tip toe about it and you don't. Sorry, that's not how it works. You're free to believe in a God, and I'm free to think that there is no God and that therefore everyone who believes that there is one is mistaken. Also, I have experienced spirituality! I was a Christian for over two decades, and I wasn't faking it. It felt very real, Jesus meant everything to me, I experienced "miracles" and answered prayers and felt God "speaking to me." But I have come to the conclusion that none of that was real. Stop acting like I have no idea what you're talking about. Sure, I haven't had "your exact experiences," but it's not like I'm ignorant of "the spiritual." After I left Christianity proper, I spent some time as a sort of pantheistic mystic, finding God in nature, and that felt wonderful and spiritual too. I am not ignorant of this stuff, I just think it's all subjective experiences and has to do with the wiring of the human brain. Or, to put it simply, it's all in your brain, it's not real. Feel free to disagree, but I am just as free to state my views, and I don't have to apologize if you don't like them. That said, feel free to continue reading my blog if you like. I'm not going to tell you that you can't believe whatever you want, or that by believing in the spiritual you're doing just as much harm as the fundies (I've already said I don't believe this, though I do feel that opening the door to the subjective and spiritual at all makes it easier for fundies to justify their views). I understand that religion and the spiritual can be very beautiful – I've experienced it – and that religion can be inspiring and can lead people to do good and make this world a better place. But don't think I'm going to pander to you and tell you that I think your views are just as right and valid as mine when I simply don't think they are. (And as I've pointed out, you've made it pretty clear that you return the favor.)Finally – I have been saying this over and over and over again, but this conversation is OFF TOPIC. STOP or I will LOCK THIS THREAD.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    @ Libby Anne,At the end of the day, aren't these conversations – whether on the topic of the thread's title, or off that topic – about whose beliefs about the universe are right, and whose are wrong? Is it just a coincidence that a good many of the subsequent discussions end this way? Aren't most posts, if not all, at least an implicit way of telling the Christian readership that they're wrong? Or am I way off, here?@ Petticoat Philosopher,I never thought for a moment that you were an Atheist. If you trust me on nothing else, trust me on that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Wow, go away for a weekend and you can miss out on a LOT! boomSLANG wrote" "Yes, that is what I propose."Okay. So, you are in fact advocating that we all "need Jesus". Fair enough. Unless I missed it, I don't see the "why?", part. So? Why? You concede that Jesus' teachings are not exclusive to Christianity. Okay, then what *good reasons do I need to believe in, extol, and follow the teachings of "Jesus"? Also, what (do you believe) will happen to me if I reject Jesus' teachings, and if it's anything negative, can you provide the specific scripture that supports your position? I'm curious to see how you arrived where you're at.*For me, "good reasons" would have to include the use of logic and reason. Heavens, no! You got it entirely backwards! I do NOT think that people have to be Christians or face any kind of cruel consequences. The exact opposite, in fact.I think Jesus is Divine, and came to teach us things by precept and example, but I do not think he ever intended Christianity. I don't intend to lay out my theology here, so I won't elaborate more.That I don't believe in what theologian T. Talbot calls " the heresy of exclusion", that's what my relatives will disown me over. Hell, an atheist would be held in higher esteem. You are claiming there is no God; I am claiming that almost everything they teach about God is heretical. You don't claim to know God; I claim to know God and refute their lifestyle and beliefs as anti-Jesus.Goodness, I wish I hadn't gone away this weekend now. I thought I effectively ended the conversation when I agreed one does NOT "need Jesus" to escape hell or be accepted by God. What a mess resulted from that assumption.Sorry for not making myself more clear.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Okay, thanks. I asked for clarification before I proceded, and you gave it to me. 'See how simple? I, too, wish you hadn't gone away, but instead, had given the above response sooner, as this would have avoided numerous fiery harangues in between then and now. And BTW, no, I most certainly am not claiming "there is no God". With that said, the blog owner/adminstrator said "stop" on this thread, so I'm listening.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Ah, well, I hadn't even read that far yet when I posted above. Sorry, Libs, for starting a war! I didn't mean to cause such a ruckus. *holds out flowers as peace offering (imagine your favorite variety, please)*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Ooo, lilies? Thanks, Shadowspring! *twirls*

  • Anonymous

    I read some of these posts and I understand the hurt and pain from being judged, but I want to share something with you. I have learned not to dwell on what people think you should do or how they judge you, because it says in the Bible God will judge them just as harsh or worse back. The only important thing is your personal relationship with Jesus. Growing in Him by praying, reading the Bible, and going to church. We go to church to hang out with fellow believers that support what we believe in because so many out there are ready and willing to seek and destroy your faith. Yeah, there are hypocrits in the church and you have a choice whether or not to hang out with them. Don't worry about them, just worry about yourself and give praise to God… the one who created you. Remember He loves you more than anyone on this earth and did all the work for you by dying on the cross… all He wants is a relationship with you. Think about your eternal decision vs earthly decision.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "The only important thing is your personal relationship with Jesus." Without using the Bible, can you provide some evidence for that assertion?…or for that matter, for anything you've asserted in your post? If not, I'm not sure why'd you expect a non-believer to take any of your assertions seriously, including the thinly-veiled threat you make when you say…Think about your eternal decision vs earthly decision.No one is more afraid of "hell" than those who actually believe in it.

  • http://liseusetheloverofreading.wordpress.com/ Natalie

    Religious self-righteousness has existed since the beginning of time. However, The true doctine of salvation is not a shaming fiasco.

    The only peopl who Jesus EVER lost his temper with were the self-righteous religious leaders and those who made money from worship.

    And when the pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery, he said “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” And He set her free.

    You can always point to corrupt Christians, just as I can point to Hitler, Stahlin, and the boys who tried to blow up Columbine (who were all AREDENT EVOLUTIONISTS).

    Pointing out the imperfection of humans does not eliminate one’s responsibility to truly consider the doctrine.

    Or should it?

    • Caravelle

      Your larger point is true, your examples aren’t. I mean, I don’t know what “evolutionist” means (evolution is a scientific theory, not an affiliation) but both Hitler and Stalin disagreed with the scientific consensus on evolution; in fact both had issues with science in general because they saw it as ideological, and thought there should be a “Nazi” or a “Communist” science to combat the standard scientific theories which were considered “Jewish” or “Capitalist”.

      Specifically, Stalin backed Lysenko who opposed Darwinian natural selection and believed in something more Lamarckian, probably because Lamarckism is all about self-improvement and that was very appealing to Stalin. Lysenko’s attempts to breed cold-hardy wheat on the basis of those theories and his dismal failure are famous, and contributed to famine in the USSR IIRC.

      And it isn’t really clear what Hitler believed – he seemed to believe in some bastardizations of evolution such as a hierarchy of life and some version of natural selection, but he also seemed to think species were fixed and he said contradictory things on whether humans evolved from other animals or not.


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